A Hearty, Filling Salad
We love salads that are hearty enough to serve as a main course—salads that provide complete and balanced nutrition—salads that can satisfy a whole family! Though this All-One Roasted Beet Salad can always be served as part of a larger meal, it has everything it needs to stand on its own.
A good salad is a mix of textures and flavors. Here, the roasted beets lend an earthy, soft sweetness—the walnuts provide a crunchy depth—the vegan cheese adds creaminess, while the white balsamic dressing gives the salad some sharpness. Everything comes together beautifully.
To get the best flavor we recommend not using canned beets, but roasting them yourself. This requires a little more time, but will really elevate this salad—and it can always be done ahead of time.
How to Roast Beets
If your market or CSA has both red and golden beets then we recommend using both—it lends the salad extra color and personality. You can even use Chioggia Beets for an impressive striped pattern. Try to get similarly sized beets so that they roast evenly.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. For a simple roast, just sprinkle salt and a bit of oil over the beets. Dr. Bronner’s Organic Coconut Oil pairs perfectly with beets—you can melt a couple tablespoons, then pour it over—olive oil works well too. For extra flavor, we like to roast the beets together with garlic cloves and fresh herbs, but that step is optional. Cover the roasting pan with foil and then bake in the oven for about 1 hour. You will know the beets are done when a knife can pierce the beets without much resistance.
Once you’ve removed the beets from the oven, peel them and slice them into bite-size (1/2 inch) chunks. These will store in the fridge for a few days, so this step can be done well ahead of time.
How to Roast Walnuts
Many markets carry walnuts that have already been roasted, in which case you can skip this step. But if you have raw walnuts, roasting them is super easy and quick—it will bring out their crunch and deepen their flavor. The key is not to roast at too high a temperature.
To roast the walnuts, preheat your oven to 350°F, lay the walnuts out evenly on a sheet pan, and bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, until the nuts are just starting to turn golden brown—you can stir them every few minutes for an even roast. That’s it!
How to Make the White Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
A homemade dressing is what transforms a salad from the mundane to the sublime—it not only adds flavor, but also helps bind all the ingredients together. The dressing can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for at least a week (after a few days, you may have to re-blend the separated ingredients).
Our version of a white balsamic vinaigrette uses red onion. Red onions tend to be milder, sweeter and more colorful than white or yellow (Spanish) onions, but white onions are actually quite similar in taste and can definitely substitute. The key to bringing out an onion’s natural sweetness is to dice it finely—and the key to minimizing tears is a well-sharpened knife! For this dressing you only need about a 1/4 to 1/2 onion, depending on the size.
Once you’ve diced the onion, measure out the rest of the ingredients.
[perfectpullquote align=”left” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”16″]White Balsamic Dressing Ingredients
— 1 oz diced red onion (1/4 to 1/2 onion)
— ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
— ¼ tsp yellow mustard
— 3 tbs honey
— 3 tbs water
— ½ cup olive oil[/perfectpullquote]
White balsamic vinegar provides a complex acidity that has a hint of wine flavor, while honey balances things out with its sweetness. Olive oil (use virgin or extra virgin if possible) gives the dressing some fat and a hint of olive flavor. Darker balsamic vinegar works fine for this recipe too—any kind of wine vinegar will do in a pinch—but we love white balsamic vinegar because of its mild sweetness and mild acidity.
Mustard, besides giving the dressing a slightly spicy sharpness, also has the emulsification properties that bring the whole thing together—binding together the vinegar and oil, which would otherwise want to stay separate. Emulsification gives dressings a creamy, smooth texture.
Here are all the salad dressing ingredients except the water:
Combine all the ingredients except the olive oil into a blender—a hand blender works perfectly for this. Blend on high until everything is completely smooth. Now begin adding in the olive oil slowly. This is another trick that helps the dressing emulsify. Adding in the olive oil too quickly can lead to separation.
Mixing and Tossing the Salad
Now you’re ready to bring all the elements together. Make sure you have a large mixing bowl, one that gives you plenty of room to toss the salad in. Put in your mixed greens (we like to use a baby spring mix)—then add in your sliced beets and walnuts. Pour your dressing over the mix and toss thoroughly before transferring to a serving bowl.
Before serving, sprinkle vegan cheese on top. We love Miyoko’s Vegan Cheese—either the Mozzarella Crumble or the Cheese Wheel, which comes in a variety of flavors and is certified organic. If you do choose a dairy cheese, we recommend something like a soft goat cheese, preferably from a creamery that uses humane and regenerative practices and lets its animals feed on pasture.